How to Obtain Court Records in Mississippi
In Mississippi you are likely to encounter several layers of courts of limited jurisdiction within the state judiciary. Below the trial courts, known as circuit courts, are limited jurisdiction courts including municipal courts, chancery courts, county courts, and justice courts. Drug courts and juvenile/family courts handle only the matters they are named for.
Those courts of limited jurisdiction often hear only misdemeanor cases and small claims under a specific dollar amount. Circuit courts may assign county courts to hear felony criminal cases, and county courts may hear civil lawsuits up to $200,000 in value. Chancery courts are the equivalent of probate courts in other states, hearing cases involving divorce, guardianship, and estates, and in some counties, juvenile matters as well.
The state’s 22 circuit courts hear felony cases as well as appeals of lower court decisions and appeals of administrative agencies such as workers compensation.
Above the circuit courts is the court of appeals, which receives its cases from the supreme court. The state supreme court automatically hears appeals of death penalty cases and may elect to hear cases appealed from the lower courts. It has jurisdiction over questions of constitutionality of state laws.
Requesting court records
There are many circumstances in which a copy of an official court document can be crucial: if you have to prove your innocence, if you need to show that your probation or parole has been completed, if you need to have a protection order enforced, and if you’re trying to get reimbursed according to a court settlement.
Mississippi does not have a searchable index of court records. It is best to use the information above about the court system to determine where the case was held and contact the clerk of the court to request the necessary document. Here is a directory of circuit court clerks that may help you locate the repository of records: https://courts.ms.gov/trialcourts/circuitcourt/circuitclerks.pdf.
Having a copy of your divorce decree can be helpful because it defines how shared property and accounts should be divided, how child custody should be handled, how much alimony will be paid, whether a name change will ensue from the divorce, and other information. Chancery courts in Mississippi handle divorces and other family matters, so it is best to contact the clerk of the chancery court where the divorce was granted in order to get a copy of the decree: https://courts.ms.gov/trialcourts/circuitcourt/circuitclerks.pdf.
When a person dies, the chancery court oversees the division of property to heirs (if any). To request records pertaining to wills, estates, guardianships, and more, contact the clerk of the chancery court in the district where the individual lived: https://courts.ms.gov/trialcourts/circuitcourt/circuitclerks.pdf. Be aware that certain records are kept confidential, including those that pertain to juvenile cases, that contain medical information, and information about victims of certain crimes.
Federal courts handle bankruptcy cases, state courts do not. The U.S. District Court for Mississippi oversees bankruptcy proceedings for residents of that state as well as federal criminal cases, class action lawsuits, and more. To search federal court records, use this link: https://www.pacer.gov/findcase.html.